Thanks to generous benefactors, a select group of driven students and their faculty mentor are nearing completion of an 8-month leadership program for business professionals.
Scott and Christine Auker sponsored seven students’ and one faculty member’s participation in Lifework Leadership South Florida in Fort Lauderdale. Dr. Sam Voorhies, executive director of the Center for Biblical Leadership, is the faculty participant. He will launch a West Palm Beach chapter of the leadership program at PBA in the fall. Student participants are Henrique Araujo, Toby DeMoss, Cindy Natalia Jimenez, Daly Reback, Madison Shockey, Bobby Wells and Harrison Wendland.
Lifework Leadership classes include teaching from nationally-known speakers, case studies with prominent business people, discussions and life application. Each class examines the life of Jesus as the best example of leadership and tackles topics such as calling, knowing God, generosity, integrity, humility, courage and compassion.
Scott Auker is an executive board member for the National Christian Foundation of South Florida, which offers the leadership initiative. Christine Auker is the Lifework Leadership program director for NCFSF. The Aukers connected with the University through PBA trustee Wayne Cotton, an NCFSF executive board member who is supporting the development of a Lifework Leadership program hosted at PBA.
The program is geared toward business leaders, not necessarily students, Scott Auker said. He wanted to connect students to the same life-changing opportunity he had 14 years ago, shortly after moving to South Florida and rededicating his life to the Lord.
“If I would have been able to meet a group of mentors when I was that age, it would have saved me decades of my life, both professionally and spiritually,” Auker said. “You build relationships and think through what it means to be a Christian when you’re working so hard to build your business.”
The program was an anchor for Christine and her late husband Bert after his diagnosis with ALS brought their professional lives to a halt. Through Lifework Leadership, they formed friendships with people who walked with them through their suffering.
“The program and the program content helped us in our decision-making,” Christine Auker said. “We were so, so blessed by Lifework.”
So was Araujo, who began his walk with God when he started working toward his MBA. PBA laid the spiritual foundation for him to get the most out of Lifework Leadership. Both completely changed his perspective, he said.
He began to see his need to rely less on himself and more on God as he managed family businesses. As he did, he became less anxious and more fulfilled, he said.
“Now I can see there must be balance,” Araujo said.
The best part is that every class emphasizes Jesus’ journey, specifically the 30 years Jesus spent preparing for three years of ministry, Araujo said.
That spiritual focus of both PBA and Lifework Leadership was a big draw for Bobby Wells, a senior management major who returned to college to finish his degree after nearly 30 years. He most appreciates the coaches’ willingness to open up about their shortcomings as well as their successes.
Wells values the opportunity to hear from Voorhies and Auker, who always bring the lessons back to a Christian perspective.
“It made me realize that in leadership, first and foremost, at the very top of that, is starting your day out with prayer,” Wells said. “No matter what aspect of leadership you’re in, leadership denotes the fact that you’re impacting people daily with your decisions.”
The lesson on ethical decision-making was “fantastic,” said leadership graduate student Daly Reback. A lesson on integrity ingrained it even more deeply as one of her core values. Afterward, she felt better equipped to speak up about doing what’s right, she said.
In addition to the formal program, mentors such as Voorhies and Cotton connect with students at monthly socials, where they talk about topics related to leadership. That’s been most impactful for MBA student Harrison Wendland ’19.
“They can be so successful in the eyes of the world and still maintain their center,” Wendland said.
Wendland, who recently began working as a project manager and executive assistant for a medical device company, said the opportunity has reinforced principles of servant leadership he learned as an undergraduate at PBA.
“There’s no job that’s below me,” Wendland said. “You can learn from everybody.”
Cindy Natalia Jimenez saw Lifework Leadership as a complement to her leadership graduate studies. The program takes a multi-disciplined approach to applying Christian principles, she said.
“It really is going to make a difference if you integrate those principles in your daily life,” Jimenez said. “You’re a role model for other people because of your principles and values.”
Photo 1: National Christian Foundation South Florida board member and Lifework Leadership table host Scott Auker (center, dark blazer) speaks with PBA students (clockwise) Henrique Araujo, Harrison Wendland, Madison Shockey and Cindy Natalia Jimenez. Dr. Sam Voorhies (left, glasses), executive director of the Center for Biblical Leadership, also mentors the students. Bobby Wells (not visible) is to Voorhies' left, and guest speaker Elias Janetis is to his right (back to camera). That day's Lifework Leadership lesson was on compassion.
Photo 2: Christine and Scott Auker pose for a photo at Lifework Leadership right after they got engaged.
Photo 3: Dr. Sam Voorhies, executive director of the Center for Biblical Leadership, speaks to a student in the Lifework Leadership program during a 2-day retreat at the start of the program. Lifework Leadership takes a multidisciplinary approach to integrating Christian principles in life and business.
Photo 4: Ginger Martin, president and CEO of American National Bank, speaks with MBA student Harrison Wendland '19, during a Lifework Leadership class on integrity.